Upper back spasms can be caused by trauma, strain, sudden injury or poor posture, according to WebMD. Pain in the upper back can also be caused by medical conditions such as osteoarthritis and gallbladder disease.
Osteoarthritis is a common cause of back pain and occurs due to a breakdown of cartilage between joints in the spine, notes Spine-health. A combination of risk factors contribute to the cause of the disease, which include gender, aging, excess weight and diseases such as diabetes and gout. Athletes have a greater risk of developing the disease, as do people with jobs that require repetitive and heavy motion. Osteoarthritis pain tends to be worse in the morning and evening, and is typically accompanied by stiffness. Other symptoms of the disease include localized tenderness in the affected area, a crunching feeling when the joint is moved and an abnormal curve in the spine.
Gallbladder disease often occurs due to the formation of gallstones, which do not usually cause any symptoms, explains University of Maryland Medical Center. Pain associated with gallstones is intermittent and typically starts in the upper right abdomen and can radiate to the upper back. These episodes can cause nausea and vomiting and be triggered by eating large or fatty meals. Dietary changes can help prevent the formation of gallstones, although risk factors such as gender, pregnancy, age and ethnicity may influence their development.